Publication Date February 19, 2021

Here's When the South Will Finally Thaw After Record-Smashing Cold, Snow and Ice

United States

Climate Signals Summary: There are three things to consider when squaring this extreme winter weather with climate change: cold weather doesn’t cancel out decades of warming; rapid Arctic warming is associated with disruptive winter weather in the US; and cold events aren’t as cold as they would have been without climate change.


Article Excerpt: 

A prolonged, historic arctic cold outbreak will hang on for a bit longer in parts of the South before a more pronounced warmup brings relief to those shivering and without power in Texas, Oklahoma and other parts of the Plains.

The double whammy of record-smashing cold and one of the heaviest snowstorms parts of the South have seen in decades has taken its toll. 

Blackouts left millions of homes and businesses without electricity, some even without running water.

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Historic Cold Outbreak Recap

Tuesday, Feb. 16

-Dallas-Fort Worth dropped to minus 2 degrees. That's the coldest temperature there since it hit minus 2 in 1949. It's only 6 degrees shy of the all-time record low of minus 8 set in 1899.

-Oklahoma City recorded its second-coldest temperature on record with a low of minus 14. Only a minus-17-degree reading in 1899 is colder in the city's weather records.

-Lawton, Oklahoma, set a new all-time record low of minus 12. Records in the city date back to 1912.

-Fayetteville, Arkansas, set a new all-time record low of minus 20. Records there date to 1905.

-Little Rock, Arkansas, plunged to minus 1 degree, its first subzero low since Christmas Eve 1989.

-Tyler, Texas, tied its all-time record low of minus 3 set in 1930.

-Tulsa, Oklahoma, dropped to minus 13. That matches the coldest reading there since it hit that mark in 1918.

-Shreveport, Louisiana, had its coldest morning since 1930 with a low of 1.

-Alexandria, Louisiana, had its coldest morning since 1962, plunging to 11 degrees.

-New Orleans recorded its coldest February daily high temperature on record, only reaching 33 degrees. It was also their coldest Mardi Gras day on record, previously 38 degrees on Feb. 14, 1899.

-Hastings, Nebraska, tied its all-time record low of minus 30. Three other Nebraska reporting stations set new all-time record lows as well.

Monday, Feb. 15

-San Angelo, Texas, tied its second-coldest all-time record low on Monday morning after dipping to minus 1.

-Houston fell to 16, the coldest temperature there since December 1989. Tuesday morning was colder, at 13 degrees.

-Kansas City International Airport reported a wind chill of minus 32 on Monday morning. That's the lowest wind chill there since Dec. 23, 1989, according to the National Weather Service.

The longevity of this cold snap has also been impressive.

Billings, Montana, finally rose above zero Monday morning for the first time in a week, their longest continuous subzero streak since 1983.

Monday was the 10th day in a row Fargo, North Dakota, didn't rise above zero, their longest such streak since 1996.

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